Quote of the day: "Good artists copy, great artists steal..."

From the transcript of the 1996 PBS documentary "Triumph of the Nerds"

"Ultimately it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you're doing. I mean Picasso had a saying -- he said 'good artists copy, great artists steal.' And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world." - Steve Jobs, 1955-2011


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Commentary: Steve Jobs made artful machines that improved access to the arts

Richard Kessler, Dean of Mannes College/The New School for Music, 10/5/11

I am writing this entry on an absolutely beautiful month or so old Macbook Air. The first computer I ever used was a Mac. There were two: a Powerbook 145B and a Centris 610. I think it was System 6. When I finally went to work at a shop that used PCs, I was stunned at how bad they were. Today, on my desk at Mannes The New School for Music, is a Macbook Pro. My days of using PCs are over. From making access to digital media and arts more widely available and easier to use than we could have ever imagined, to making machines that were both beautiful to look at and artful in a way that all the other pretenders, particularly Microsoft, could never quite replicate, to helping to make the world smaller in a good way, I am thankful for Steve Jobs and want to recognize the simple fact that he really did make this world of ours a better place. Rest in peace, Steve Jobs.


Visual artists pay homage to the late tech visionary

The Huffington Post, 10/6/11

Mere hours after Apple announced word of his passing, artists, illustrators and animators have already started to express their grief in the way they know best -- through their work instead of their words. Passed along through Twitter, Tumblr and Digg, these images -- often rendered on devices Jobs himself invented -- represent a poignant tribute to the late technology innovator.  Check out the slideshow to see what's appeared already. We'll continue to add more images as we find them. [FROM TC: HuffPo has a related slideshow of other tribute images here.]


Commentary: Steve Jobs, the man who changed music

James Montgomery, MTV.com, 10/6/11

Jobs' iPod - and, of course, the accompanying iTunes Store, which arrived soon after - made music a tangible thing, a totem you could carry with you, share with your friends or add to out of thin air. It made the audiophile's long-unfulfilled dream of having your entire collection with you an absolute reality (even if it also helped suppress the audiophile's other passion, high-quality sonics), a fact that revolutionized the way music intersects with our lives It turned songs into commodities, brought into question the intrinsic value of art, destroyed the idea of the album artist and very nearly brought the entire industry to its knees. With Jobs' death on Wednesday, one can't help but begin to consider his place in music history. Were he and his iPod as influential as Ahmet Ertegun, Berry Gordy or Thomas Edison, the man who invented the phonograph? Absolutely. Did he change the business like Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson? Probably. And while I can't speak to the whole "Cult of Apple" thing, I can say that, as a music fan, Steve Jobs forever changed my life and the lives of a lot of other people. One day, we will look at our children and tell them all about these things called CDs and these places we used to buy them called record stores, and they won't believe us, because it all seems so impractical. Take that however you will. Progress, regression, inevitable. Jobs was the man who seized the moment, turned the tide and will continue to do so, even in death.


Commentary: In ballet class today, pay a final révérence to Steve Jobs

Carla Escoda, Ballet To The People blog, 10/6/11

In ballet class the final movement is always an elegant, choreographed bow or curtsy acknowledging the maestro, or accompanist. Today, fewer and fewer classes offer live piano accompaniment, with teachers relying more on the iPod to provide the necessary musical inspiration. While traditionalists decry the encroachment of technology into the ballet studio, others have embraced the power that the iPod, together with iTunes, gives us - the vast range of music at our fingertips, and the ability to put our own, sometimes quirky, stamp on the class through the musical choices that we make. Today, as you perform that révérence, bow your head in the direction of that sleek little sliver of stainless steel and say a silent Merci to Steve Jobs. Maurice Béjart's electrifying ballet Boléro, set to Ravel's famous composition of the same name, may be a fitting tribute to Jobs - featuring a soloist dancing on an enormous round table, it calls to mind the iconic click wheel, the iPod's brilliantly simple navigation component. The original version of Boléro, choreographed by Nijinska, premiered at the Paris Opéra in 1928 and featured a Spanish gypsy dancing on a table. Béjart's version, with its striking lighting effects, the scale of the table and the pounding repetitive movements, is at once minimalist and flamboyant, passionate to the point of being unsettling. Is the dancer a prisoner being forced to perform against his will? Is he an unreachable object of desire? Is he a tyrant, whipping his subjects into a frenzy? He collapses at the end but his fall does not appear to reflect death or disintegration, but rather a final triumph. R.I.P. Steve Jobs, and thank you for the music.


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Note: This interview was published last Sunday before Mr. Jobs' death. -- TC


A theatrical monologue about "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs"

Catherine Rampell, The New York Times, 10/2/11

Mike Daisey, one of the great solo storytellers of contemporary theater, has traveled the world performing sharp, polemical and extemporaneous monologues about Amazon.com, national security, James Frey and a host of other subjects. He brings his latest piece, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, to [New York's] Public Theater from Oct. 11 through Nov. 13. Half of the show profiles Mr. Jobs. The other half describes Mr. Daisey's trip to Shenzhen, China, where he posed as a wealthy businessman to infiltrate factories where Apple products and other electronics are made. He says he witnessed inhumane conditions and interviewed workers outside of factories who said they were as young as 12.

NY TIMES. Have you softened the show because it might feel callous to criticize a man who has serious health problems?

DAISEY. The idea that [Mr. Jobs] could pass away is a tremendous distraction from the really essential story. To be truthful, it's difficult to know that we are so hungry to be distracted from the unfortunate and uncomfortable situation we've created for ourselves with China, with our labor, with all of our manufacturing, that we will grasp at whatever it takes to not talk about it.

NY TIMES. One of the implications of your show is that consumers should think more critically about the devices they buy. But there may not be a more ethical competitor to turn to. How do you hope your show will change viewers' choices as consumers?

DAISEY. The situation we find ourselves in is not terribly different than it was for the organic food movement in the 1950s, an era when the idea that food should not be treated with pesticide was bizarre because people didn't even understand why you wouldn't want your food in a can.  In other words the act of making people think about these issues is a revolutionary act because no one is thinking about them.


UPDATE: Mike Daisey was interviewed yesterday after Steve Jobs' death, commenting that Mr. Jobs "reinvented the paradigm of what computing is three times with the Apple II, the Macintosh and the iPhone. And to be clear, the rest of the tech industry reinvented the paradigm zero times." 

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